What we know about the unannounced Fire TV box and when to expect it

As you’re likely well aware, Amazon announced the new Fire TV 3 but did not mention the second new Fire TV device that I revealed last month which, among other features, is supposed to have far-field Alexa capabilities. Many of you have been asking me about this device and why it wasn’t announced. Here’s everything that we know, that we think we know, and that we don’t yet know about the unannounced next-generation Fire TV box.

I’ve been reading a lot of misinformation and assumptions passed as facts about the unannounced cube-shaped Fire TV. Not counting the information I revealed last month, the only thing we know for sure is that Amazon is working on an unannounced Fire TV device that carries a build value of “AFTA.” We know this because a Fire TV app developer found logs of such a device using his app. The forum posts from that developer, which were made in Amazon’s developer forum, have since been deleted, but it’s safe to say his logs were accurate because he also mentioned an unrecognized “AFTN” Fire TV model, which we now know is the Fire TV 3 that just got announced.

When the latest 5.2.6.0 Fire TV software update was released a few weeks ago, I was able to find references to the AFTA device in the code and learned that the device is codenamed “Stark.” That code segment also revealed that the Fire TV 3 that was just announced is codenamed “Needle,” Both codenames go along with Amazon’s historical use of movie/TV references as Fire TV codenames. The existence of a second new Fire TV device, its build name, and its codename are the only things we know for sure.

I revealed a lot more information about the unannounced Fire TV in my leak, which I’m confident was accurate at the time, but there’s no guarantee that it will all pan out. The fact that the information leaked, and Amazon was able to gauge the public’s reaction to the unannounced Fire TV early, could alter the device’s development.

I have no new information about Stark, the cube-shaped Fire TV that we expect to incorporate some of the capabilities of an Amazon Echo Dot. As I said in my leak, the device is not as far along in its development as the Fire TV 3, so it was never expected to be revealed along with the Fire TV 3 last month. We’ll be lucky if it’s announced, yet alone ships, this year.

There are a lot of unsubstantiated assumptions people have been making about Stark. While I did say it will be Amazon’s flagship Fire TV device, there’s, unfortunately, no guarantee it will be better than the Fire TV 2 in every way, like some people seem to be assuming.

If the progression of Amazon’s Fire tablets are any indication, they prefer to focus on making key aspects, which they think are important to most customers, better while ignoring or eliminating other aspects in order to reduce the device’s price. It’s probably safe to assume Stark is being developed using the same strategy, so while some aspects will likely be superior to the Fire TV 2, others will likely stay the same, and others will be inferior.

I would not be surprised if Stark used the same, or a similar, CPU and GPU as the new Fire TV 3. If so, that would give it superior video playback capabilities to the Fire TV 2, specifically gaining support for 4K at 60 fps and HDR video, but it would give it inferior gaming capabilities. Since Amazon doesn’t even support the official Fire TV Game Controller on their Fire TV Edition televisions, it seems like gaming capabilities are not a priority for them.

With the announcement of the new Fire TV Ethernet adapter for the Fire TV 3 and the Fire TV Stick 2, it’s plausible that Stark won’t even have an Ethernet port built-in. We really don’t know anything about its ports or expandability at all at this point. These are the types of things you should consider if you’re holding out for the unannounced Fire TV.

Amazon’s future flagship Fire TV devices, including Stark, will likely focus on solid video playback, competitive pricing, and features that set it apart from the competition, like far-field microphones for Alexa and an IR blaster to control other A/V equipment. That will, unfortunately, mean that home theater enthusiasts who want a no-compromise device will probably be disappointed by some aspects of Stark and future Fire TV models.

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27 comments
  1. Joe says:

    This Cube TV already had enough against it, the lack of an ethernet port would be a deal killer for me.

    • Neogeo71 says:

      Wish they would hurry up and support the game controller on the tv, the headphone jack is a must for me, I won’t buy the tv unless I can duplicate that function. I tried Bluetooth headphones but had too many a/v sync issues

  2. Michael says:

    Agree with this assessment. I mean, Amazon doesn’t really even sell content in 4K for any “enthusiast” in the first place. Their UHD library compared to others is pretty sad. That actually is evidence in support of just appealing to the masses without any real interest in the highest specs or quality.

    That being said, totally agree that Amazon’s focus is on having Alexa on as many devices as possible for the lowest possible cost. Not saying that’s a bad thing – just something to keep expectations in check with.

  3. Charles says:

    The Fire TV 3 box is a pretty interesting device if it does in fact exist. Of course this also means that Fire TV 3 box is also an Echo device. A 2 in 1 device that can successfully control the living room as well as control other smart home devices with 4K UHD capabilities. What would be interesting is if more than 1 Fire TV 3 box can communicate with one another throughout the home.

    And of course this device would in fact introduce customers to the smart home realm. Many people buy streaming boxes to watch their favorite content, but if they start playing around with Alexa, it could be a game changer for Amazon.

  4. Terry says:

    Don’t care to have the always on ears….but if I can shut it off, no problem. No hardware ethernet, no purchase, wifi in my are way to crowded. Really would like easily accessible access a USB external drive, and ability to plug my USB tuner in to record OTA stuff for timeshift.

  5. Eric says:

    Elias, since it really looks like we will not be getting a good upgrade to the FTV2 in terms of ports and performance, could we get an android box alternative review? i.e. no MiBox…

    • Mike says:

      Good question @Eric. I would also like to know of an alternative that is not Mi Box.

    • Seth says:

      Shield TV. It’s a little on the spendy side, but well worth it for the specs/performance.

      • ilovemymac says:

        Dont use lose Prime video with the Shield TV? I have a MEcool box running nexus software and i cant find a Prime video app to use with it while it plays great on some things it sucks that i cant get use of my prime video.

        Yes i do not want the new fire tv 3 if it has the mics in it becuase i dont trust amazon.

        • Matthew says:

          No – they added it earlier this year. I wanted a Shield but my setup is too antiquated for it.

          https://shield.nvidia.com/blog/amazon-video-on-shield

        • jimberkas says:

          shield tv does allow prime video. its the only box other than amazons that officially allows prime video. its the best of both android tv and amazon prime video, just costs a lot. probably be the best option if indeed the cube is as crappy as it sounds.

          • Eric says:

            The Shield is the obvious (more expensive) alternative, but we need to have some other options. With so many android boxes, there has to be some front runners for replacing the FTV2.

          • pmcd says:

            The Roku players support Amazon Video and the Apple TV is supposed to be gaining support sometime soon. The new Apple TV also has gigabit Ethernet which makes it similar to the excellent Shield TV in that respect. Both the Shield TV and the new Apple TV would seem to be solid media players. Unfortunately, Amazon appears to not be terribly interested in either media players or tablets.

      • pmcd says:

        The Shield TV is well worth the extra cost. Best media player I have ever had. The Amazon app is ok, though not as nice as using a Fire TV for that. You can’t add titles to wish lists, for example. Maybe they improved that with their latest OS upgrade? Otherwise, the new Apple TV would be my 2nd choice. Both Shield and it have gigabit Ethernet and both run MrMC.

        • Eric says:

          Apple and Roku are not android.. and yes, everyone knows about the Shield. We need to know by personal experience or technical specs, what else out there will give us the closest to the FTV. With musts like Ethernet, usb, sdcard, 4khdr. And sure a optic port would be nice, but you have to give up something right?

  6. Mike says:

    At this point, the new box is a unicorn for me. I really hope it comes as I resisted on buying the Fire TV 2 and was waiting for the Fire TV 3 Box. I really hope it does have the Ethernet, MicroSD and USB else I will need to hunt for a Fire TV 2 again.

  7. Charlie says:

    Not much new. Just speculation. The FireTV 2 is now known as Previous Generation. Since the dongle is FireTV 3 I would have to think the cube will be FTV 4. It will have to go some to outdo the 2 I think, built in Dot aside.

  8. Ian S. says:

    Where does the image come from? The existence of that image is as much evidence as the server logs but you don’t mention if it is from an amazon source or just a mock.

  9. Janice Bellville says:

    I’d love to hear more when available!

  10. Larry Bernard says:

    Well to much complaining and not enough appreciation. Their prices are still the best when it’s compared with other devices. The big problem is the internet that are controlled by the stupid cable and satellite provider’s that’s our biggest problem. If any devices that can be used offline that would get rod of the providers as a whole. Maybe the gov’t can install wifi towers like they have cellphone towers and we will have access all of the time and not some of the time. I’m just happy to see the cable company to go down in flames and stop over charging for tv that should be free.

  11. tman says:

    I have the FireTV gen 2, and it’s a great player. 4k is nice, but not having HDR will probably make my upgrade to the ‘cube’. I’d also insist it has an ethernet port – streaming 4k w/HDR demands it.

    One other thing I haven’t heard anything about with all these announcements is whether the new FireTV streamers support HDR10+. Amazon are partners with Samsung on this, and are meant to have 10+ content available soon. Anyone have any ideas? Everything so far just says HDR10, nothing about +.

  12. Marky says:

    I think this is a fair assessment, Amazon want their Fire TV to take in Apple really, and Apples HomeKit silly money smart home kit. Amazon though works with almost anything, like you said about Ikeas cheap smart home tech. It’s heavily advertised as a feature of their Echo devices on TV ads.
    I think my next Amazon device will be the Dot 2 or Spot,I am really keen to see the Spot actually as it’s a bit more useful being some sort of bedside alarm clock.

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